Beijing: China, world's most populous nation with over 1.34 billion people, on Tuesday said its urban population for the first time outnumbered people living in rural areas as a huge population has shifted their base to cities for better opportunities.
The number of people living in cities for the first time exceeded those living in the rural areas by the end of last year, the China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
The number of urban dwellers increased by 21 million to hit 690.79 million as of the end of 2011, accounting for 51.27 percent of the country's total population, the NBS said.
Meanwhile, the rural population fell by 14.56 million to 656.56 million as of the end of 2011, it said.
According to 2010 census, China has overall population of 1.34 billion.
The shift marks a major turnaround for China, which essentially was an agrarian state dependent on agriculture. It now has emerged as the most industrialised transformed by large scale economic reforms undertaken during the last three decades.
China, however, braced to confront a major problem in future as it is also increasingly getting weighed down by aging population.
The number of people between the ages of 15 and 64 stood at about one billion, or 74.4 percent of the nation's total. The amount was down 0.1 percentage points from that of the previous year, the NBS said.
According to recent studies, China will be saddled with over 440 million old people in the next four decades.
The increase of old people disrupting the demographic cycle was largely blamed on the one child policy being adopted for the past three decades.
China's population was expected to hit 1.45 billion in 2020 from the current 1.34 billion, Li Bin, director of State Population and Family Planning Commission had said.
Currently about 13.26 percent of China's population are aged 60 or above at present. It is expected that the ratio will hit one third, or 440 million, by 2050, which means that one fifth of the population will be 80 years of age or older in 2050, Li said.